Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Buy Used
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Rocket Men: The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon Hardcover – June 25, 2009

3.4 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews

See all 14 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$0.95 $0.01
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Springer featured resources in physics
Discover featured physics titles from Springer
click to open popover

Special Offers and Product Promotions

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon. In this extensively researched account of that epic achievement, former publishing executive and prize-winning author Nelson (The First Heroes) moves seamlessly between Apollo 11 astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, their nervous families and the equally nervous NASA ground crew. Nelson follows Armstrong in nail-biting detail as he tries to find a place to land with less than a minuteÖs worth of fuel remaining. A large central section of the book digresses to provide some backstory on the feverish American-Soviet game of one-upmanship in the year leading up to the Apollo 11 launch. For instance, Nelson describes Apollo 8 as an almost reckless gamble by NASA to beat the Russians in sending men to orbit the moon The book also describes the sad personal toll the mission took. Collins was best able to deal with the cost of fame yet expressed the anticlimax of life after Apollo 11: I seem gripped by earthly ennui. Space fans and readers who remember that momentous time will find this an exciting read. (June 29)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Using interviews, NASA oral histories, and declassified CIA material, Nelson has produced a magnificent, very readable account of the steps that led to the success of Apollo 11. In the 40 years since the first moon landing and the 52 years since Sputnik was launched, it isn’t always remembered now what an experiment the Apollo program was, nor that the space race was as much a military as a scientific campaign. The space program was launched using the knowledge of rockets available at the end of World War II and former Third Reich scientists working in both American and Soviet programs. When it came to sending men into orbit and beyond, routines and equipment had to be invented and tested in minute increments. Nelson’s descriptions take us back, showing the assorted teams and how they worked together. We meet the astronauts and find out why they were eager to take on this mission, and we also meet the hypercareful technicians, without whom neither men nor craft would have left the ground. Nelson shows, too, how the technology and the politics of the times interrelated. Leslie Fish, songwriter, summed it up perfectly, “To all the unknown heroes, sing out to every shore / What makes one step a giant leap is all the steps before.” Nelson brightly illuminates those steps. --Frieda Murray

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult; First Edition edition (June 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670021032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670021031
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #808,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is entertaining, imaginatively structured, and packed with information. Unfortunately, it's also riddled with errors. Some are just bizarre. On page 194, author Craig Nelson describes the first flight of the Saturn 5 in 1967, and he seems to have fallen into a parallel universe where the mission was a near disaster, instead of the "success on all accounts" described in Roger Bilstein's "Stages of Saturn" (accessible online). Here is what Nelson has to say: "On November 9 at 0700 EST, Apollo 4 launched. Two F-1 rockets abruptly quit during liftoff, at which the stack pulled a U-turn and headed screaming back at the ground. But the guidance system righted the vehicle, and the CM dummy capsule was successfully put into orbit." There are so many things wrong with that passage that it's hard to know where to begin. Suffice it to say that everything about the performance of the rocket is incorrect and could not possibly have happened as described. It shows a basic misunderstanding of the fundamentals of the subject, which Nelson displays over and over. Take his "essential formula for rocketry" on page 96: "combine liquid fuel, oxygen (for added power and to operate in a vacuum), and a flame to trigger an explosion of gases...." There are four errors: the fuel can be, and often is, solid; the oxidizer is not for "added power," it's indispensible for a reaction to occur at all (leaving aside the special case of a monopropellant); some propellants ignite without a flame (for example, in the CM and LM); finally, it's not an explosion. This is not nitpicking; it's rocketry 101. Later in this passage, Nelson calls liquid hydrogen an oxidizer (it's a fuel). Such sloppy writing occurs throughout the book, which obviously was not checked by relevant experts. Still, I think it deserves more than one star.Read more ›
15 Comments 89 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I saw in one of the reviews that in 40 years this book will be the book everyone turns to. I hope not, because that means there will be a lot of misinformed people in 40 years.

There are some good things about this book. It is an entertaining read. It provides context to events that is helpful. It also includes stories I hadn't heard before, which is refreshing. The problem is the book is full of errors, some showing a basic lack of understanding of the subject matter. It gets so bad I'm left wondering what in the book I can actually trust.

If you are new to the subject and want a good book to read, I recommend either Chris Kraft's or Gene Cernan's books.

I'll give it two stars since it is an enjoyable read.

Here is some errors I can think of off the top of my head. (I didn't want to put them in my main review.) It's not a complete list:
* Stating Gene Cernan was commander of Apollo 15, instead of 17
* A completely wrong description of what Max-Q is
* Confusing escape velocity and orbital speed.
* Calling the landing radar PGNS (which makes sense, since it is pronounced PINGS, but wrong)
* Stating that Armstrong used the Abort Guidance System to land, since he had to maneuver around some boulders. It wasn't.

That's just a few, and you may ask what the big deal with them is. The problem is that they are so pervasive it destroys the credibility of the author.
3 Comments 76 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I have to say, the author CHOSE to write about an event which is intensely tied to technology. It is also a real event in history. If accuracy in the essential technological aspects is not important to Mr. Nelson, as a person writing history, he has made a poor choice of subject matter. If you purport to write history, there exists an obligation to do your research! Betraying the fact that he didn't, apparently, bother to research or have the technical aspects proofread, tells me that Nelson isn't committed to accuracy, and that is a cardinal sin for a historian!

That begs the question: What basis does this sloppy approach give me for believing that anything else, including the non-technical, presented in this work as fact is accurately portrayed?

I agree that there are engaging passages, and sometimes an interesting and unusual slant on events, but if you want an engaging, ACCURATE account of Apollo 11, read Mike Collin's "Carrying the Fire" (he really is the most literate of the moon voyagers, and the most dryly humorous) , or for the project as a whole through the eyes of the astronauts, Andrew Chaikin's superb "A Man on the Moon". "Rocket Men" is for me an interesting approach that needs a major overhaul to become a decent book.
3 Comments 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I received this book as a Christmas present, so at least it wasn't my money wasted on it.

I can only say that after reading the other Amazon reviews here and doing a little thumbing through this book, my preliminary assessment is this author doesn't really know a damned thing about his subject.

One only has to read his account on page 194 of the first Saturn V launch (Apollo 4)to understand the absolute cluelessness that this author has for his subject.

And I quote: "Two F-1 rockets abruptly quit during liftoff, at which the stack pulled a U-turn and headed screaming back at the ground. But the guidance system righted the vehicle..."

The next sentence goes on to describe the equally "trouble-filled" Apollo 5 launch in which two engines on the three stage vehicle died.

There is so much wrong concentrated into these two sentences it's hard to know where to start to untangle the mess and inaccuracy the author packs in here:

1) The first Saturn V launch was virtually flawless. Two of its F-1 engines did NOT quit (no F-1 engine ever failed in any Saturn V launch--65 engines launched, 65 flawless performances over thirteen Saturn V launches).

2) No Saturn V could have made a "U-turn" in flight and come screaming back at the ground. If it had, the vehicle would have broken up under the aerodynamic stresses of doing a loop-de-loop.

3) Apollo 5 was also a perfect launch--it was a two stage Saturn 1B launch that placed an unmanned LEM into low earth orbit for testing. It was not, as the author states, a three stage vehcle, on which "two of its engines died...which would have carried the craft to the moon."

Apollo 5 was intended to test he LEM in low earth orbit, not the moon, and it did so as planned.
Read more ›
18 Comments 48 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews